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ECL 220 (Dr. Faustus)

Dr. Faustus and the devil Mephastophilis form a complex relationship throughout The Tragical
History of Doctor Faustus, typified by Faustus' absolute dependency on his counterpart and a
shared sense of possessiveness that accidentally discloses Mephastophilis' anguish and longing.
"(Scene 5/ Lines 104-106) The contract that Faustus makes with Lucifer is like a dark ceremony
of matrimony that bonds Mephastophilis."
The devil is a servant with some authority over his master, but because he is the source of the
man's power and the borders of influence are blurred, the two characters grow on one other and
bring their natural sensitivity to the surface. The play's dynamic is most immediately affected
by the power imbalance between Faustus and Mephastophilis.
Faustus is fully dependent on the devil because he is weak without him, despite the fact that
Mephastophilis is officially specified as Faustus' servant in the contract. "By him
(Mephastophilis), I'll be great ruler of the world," (Scene 3, line 104) instead of claiming that
he would govern totally on his own desire, the doctor recognizes that Mephastophilis is a
necessary channel for his powers.
It is also Faustus' demonic companion who executes all of the mortal's magical deeds. The
doctor can only bother the pope because Mephastophilis renders him invisible, and Faustus can
call Alexander the Great and grapes in the winter because he has a devil by his side, not because
he possesses extraordinary skills or abilities. Because Faustus sold his soul in exchange for the
restricted service of a devil, rather than the lofty ideals he had in his opening monologue, "All
creatures that move between the silent poles/ Shall be at my command," his contract with
Lucifer becomes trivialized (Scene 1, lines 56-57).
Faustus' only command is over Mephastophilis, but that authority is limited by the spirit's
ultimate allegiance to Lucifer, who forbids his servant from giving Faustus a wife or speaking
of the world's creator because both deeds involve the divine and are thus beyond Lucifer's
dominion. "Villain, have I not bound thee to teach me anything?" Faustus chastises
Mephastophilis on this limit of knowledge. "Ay that is not against our realm; but this is. / Think
on hell, Faustus, for thou art cursed," the devil responds (Scene 5/ Lines 246-248).
Faustus' reliance on the devil, despite these limits, endears him to his "Sweet Mephastophilis,"
(Scene 5/ Line 244). While their relationship is not explicitly eroticized, Faustus and
Mephastophilis share a bond that transcends the usual master-servant relationship. When
Mephastophilis urges Faustus to cut his arm so he can sign the contract in blood, the doctor
adds, "... for the love of thee, / I cut my arm (Scene 5/ line 53)," and the devil plays on this idea
when Faustus asks for a wife, saying, "if thou lovest me, think no more of it." (Line 150, Scene
Despite the fact that Faustus' love for the devil stems from Mephastophilis' power rather than
his personality, it has the potential to instill a strong sense of possessiveness in both
companions. "And now, my Faustus, that thou may'st perceive/ What Rome containeth to
delight thee with," Mephastophilis seems to want to make Faustus happy as he walks him
through Rome, "And now, my Faustus, that thou may'st perceive/ What Rome containeth to
delight thee with," (Scene 7/ line 28-29).
The devil Mephastophilis grows attached to the mortal Faustus during the course of his stay
with him. When the enraged horse-courser attempts to enter Faustus' chamber, Mephastophilis
acts as a nurse, ensuring that his master's sleep is not disturbed. After letting the guy in,
Mephastophilis conducts business with the horse-courser, while Faustus laments the loss of his
"leg." Despite the fact that Faustus' love for Mephastophilis stems from his desire for power,
Mephastophilis' sentiments for Faustus are based on the notion that the devil can relate to
mortals since he is on the approach of eternal damnation.
When Faustus inquires about his escape from hell, Mephastophilis responds that hell persists
wherever he goes since he has experienced God and heaven and has lost them for all eternity.
"O Faustus, leave these trifling demands,/ Which strike a fear to my sinking soul,"
Mephastophilis begs with Faustus as he depicts his eternal anguish. This is an unusual request
from one of hell's original denizens, but Mephastophilis recognizes that Faustus is at a
crossroads in his life where he must choose between damnation and salvation, and out of
compassion for his precarious position between paradise and hell, the devil gives Faustus a
chance to make the right choice.
This entreaty implies that if Mephastophilis had the opportunity to reverse his past, he would
never have rejected God since the price was too high. Unfortunately, Faustus is so blinded by
pride that he ignores the warning and embarks on the same path of damnation that
Mephastophilis had previously chosen. When Mephastophilis interacts with a mortal who
reminds him of himself, the demon becomes introspective, and when he fetches the coals to
thin Faustus' blood, the spirit expresses desperation, "Oh what will I not do to gain his soul!"
Because he is forced to conduct errands for a mortal man in order to escort his relatively minor
soul into hell, this outcry demonstrates the baseness of Mephastophilis' existence. He
recognizes the folly of Faustus' "frivolous requests," which aren't worth the eternity of anguish
that Mephastophilis has experienced. Mephastophilis, on the other hand, being a dedicated
follower of Lucifer, is bound to his hellish duty and can do nothing to persuade the mortal
Faustus. His master Lucifer would not have been pleased with even a single instant of remorse
from him.
While Mephastophilis' relationship with Faustus does not inherently change him, it does reflect
his character's depth. Even though he is an eternally cursed Satan, he still yearns for God's
presence and eternal happiness, to the extent where he tries to lead Faustus in the right road in
his place. One may expect a devil like Mephastophilis to be unmistakably terrible and cruel,
but his relationship with Faustus displays the complexity of his personality.
He is eternally condemned, but he is capable of compassion and does not exult in his own
nefariousness. Dr. Faustus, on the other hand, is too self-absorbed to listen to the spirit, and as
a result of his arrogance, he loses his soul. The mortal man does not obtain any actual power
or authority as a result of his contract with Lucifer; rather, he gains the basic services of a devil
who performs parlor tricks for him. Faustus sold his soul for the false promise of power, as
seen by his reliance on Mephastophilis, and he does not completely comprehend the foolishness
of his actions until Lucifer's legions drag him into hell. "The Tragical History of Doctor
Faustus," by Christopher Marlowe.